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STYLING | 4 out of 10
same basic shape that has defined Ford vans since the late 1970s
Kelley Blue Book
a radical new grille
Rugged new styling
design is as square as square can be
Traditionally more concerned with function than form, designers of the 2008 Ford Econoline have this year given some attention to dressing up the workhorse--though the jury is still out as to whether the makeover is as radical as Ford's marketing department claims.
The 2008 Econoline sports a new fascia, dual stacked headlamps, and bumpers in addition to the big, bright grille. Kelley Blue Book admits that the changes "give the E-Series a slightly new look." Whether the look is successful is another question. Edmunds.com says, "Ford is obviously hoping for a more macho look here, though it's not entirely cohesive." Inside, they report, there have been fewer changes.
Most reviewers agree that style is not the selling point of the Econoline. Ford has made token efforts to keep the van looking fresh, but as Automobile Magazine points out, "the utilitarian mission of the E-Series precludes any flair... [and] many of these vans will either be used to take people to the surgeon's table in ambulance guise or end up in the operating room themselves, being chopped up into extravagantly decaled conversion vans."
Cars.com mentions that the XLT Premium package offers "aluminum wheels and running boards, as well as two-tone paint" and that the updated grille "serves another purpose in addition to making the vehicle look more defined: it allows more air to pass through the cooling systems."
As Cars.com points out, several of the models are intended for commercial use, so inside the Econoline frills are minimal, though the XLT Premium version does offer captain's chairs and an overhead console.
The base structure, inside and out, really hasn't changed much, according to Edmunds.com--and that's not necessarily bad: "For upfitters, or those who turn E-Series vans into commercial vehicles... any change to the Econoline's basic structure and dimensions means they also have to change the dimensions and tooling of their customizations... [So] a cargo van that looks different, but is still very much the same. For many E-Series customers, that is the best news of all."
Ford's attempts to spiff up the 2008 Econoline meet with limited success.